Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan Plant Closures And U.S. Ripple Effects For Automakers

China isn't the only manufacturing nation hurt by indefinite plant closures in Japan.  One GM plant in the U.S. anticipates a shutdown due to parts shortages.  If it's any consolation to GM shareholders, Honda and other Japanese competitors face much larger uncertainties over resuming full-scale production. 

Solving global supply crunches requires more space than what's available in a blog post.  Try simpler designs with fewer moving parts that are available from common materials and multiple sources.  That means far fewer amenities in cars.  Automakers can afford to do away with cup holders, back seat video screens, power windows, molded seats, multiple temperature controls, and other luxuries.  Spoiled American road hogs can get used to driving the way their grandparents did in the 1950s when seat belts and a radio were all you needed. 

Remember this the next time someone on CNBC touts an automaker as a great investment because it just came out from under TARP.  Oh, BTW, higher oil prices mean gas-guzzling SUVs are less attractive products

Full disclosure:  No position in any automakers at this time.